Global News

South Korea proposes military talks to North Korea

South Korea proposes military talks to North Korea

On Monday, Seoul's Defense Ministry proposed talks at the border village of Panmunjom this Friday to discuss how to ease border-area tensions, while the Red Cross said it wants separate talks at Panmunjom on August 1 to discuss family reunions.

North Korea's decision to shun all channels of dialogue came after Seoul closed down the jointly-run Kaesong Industrial Complex in response to Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in January 2016 and a subsequent long-range ballistic missile launch.

The proposals were separately announced to local media by the Ministry of National Defense and the Korean Red Cross, the latter of which organizes the family reunions.

South Korea on Monday proposed military talks with North Korea, the first formal overture to Pyongyang by the government of President Moon Jae-in, and said the two sides should discuss ways to avoid hostile acts near the heavily militarized border.

South Korea is seeking urgent talks with its northern neighbour to defuse growing military tension.

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Suh suggested the talks be held this Friday at Tongilgak, a building operated by the North Korean government in the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom.

The bipartisan legislation on North Korea introduced last week in Washington may be treading new territory with sanctions against at least one Chinese garment company suspected of hiring North Korean forced laborers.

If the talks are held, loudspeaker broadcasts, leafleting and South Korea-U.S. drills are expected to top the agenda.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha met with the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, Tomas Ojea Quintana, Monday to discuss policies on dealing with the abject human rights situation in the reclusive state. Analysts are predicting that if the inter-Korean military talks do take place, the two sides will agree to restore their June 4 agreement under the Roh Moo-hyun administration in 2004, in which they pledged to "prevent unintended clashes in the West (Yellow) Sea, halt propaganda activities at the MDL, and remove means of propaganda".

In an act to rein in the North, the United States is preparing new sanctions on Chinese banks and firms doing business with Pyongyang possibly within weeks, two senior USA officials said last week. Last time Seoul and Pyongyang held intergovernmental talks in late 2015. The North recently voiced suspicion over Moon's North Korea policy, and some conservatives in South Korea worry that his overture might weaken global pressure on North Korea.